Algebra by the book and beyond

Date of release: 06/21/00

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — The Southwest Texas State University Math Department, in cooperation with South Texas Community College (STCC) in McAllen, is wrapping up its fifth year as a leader in the mathematical revolution of students and teachers in the Valley and Central Texas areas.

On June 28, 2000, SWT will host a reception for teachers, contributors and supporters of the 5th annual Math Camps at STCC. Officials from SWT and contributing agencies will visit area schools throughout the day.

Dr. Max Warshauer, associate professor of mathematics at SWT and director of the Math Camps, said the camps were created out of a need and a desire to see students at a younger age succeed in higher-level math courses.

During the two-and six-week camps, teachers and students are shown ways to increase math skills by learning the language of mathematics and making math fun. Teachers learn to engage students in exciting and theoretical exploration and activities. The teachers receive hands-on training in working with students who themselves are being prepared for algebra and more advanced courses.

“Dr. Terry McCabe (associate professor in math at SWT), Dr. Hiroko Warshauer (lecturer in math at SWT), Dr. Dan Shapiro (math professor at Ohio State University), Dr. Charles Pascoe (theatre professor at SWT) and myself were the developers of this training workshop,” Warshauer said.

With the help of Pascoe, the mathematical program, developed by the other four professors, was given an air of festivity. Pascoe and the others developed a means by which children could act out their understandings of math and use the concepts they were being taught to provide solution to their problems.

Warshauer explained that the junior camp, which lasts two weeks, is a commuter camp for younger students in grades 3 through 8. The students are given a pre-and post-test during the camp, and Warshauer reported a significant increase in the understanding of higher level mathematical concepts within the two-week time frame. Sixth grade students were reportedly performing algebra problems and understanding algebraic concepts by the time they left.

The six-week residential honors camp is designed for high school students. The students are taught college-level math, working together in groups to explore and discover new concepts, Warshauer said.

“We want to bring the joy and excitement of math to these students.” Warshauer said.

The program, which is concentrated in the valley, is an attempt to “target low-income, minority populations which typically have a higher rate of students not succeeding in math.”

Participating schools in the valley include those in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, Mercedes, Brownsville, Donna, La Joya, Rio Grande City, Hidalgo, Zapata and Progreso. Other schools around the state include those in San Marcos, Austin, Houston, Port Lavaca and Lockhart.

Warshauer said he would like to thank the sponsors of the program: the National Science Foundation, the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education, Eisenhower Higher Education Grants Program, Southwestern Bell Foundation, National Instruments, Rockwell Fund, Inc. American Math Society and the SWT Math Camp Endowment.